silvester legal logo


Can I modify or terminate a commercial contract once it’s signed?

Commercial contracts serve as the foundation for business relationships, providing a framework for transactions and obligations. 

Once a contract is signed, parties may find themselves contemplating modifications or terminations due to evolving circumstances. 

This article delves into the complexities of post-signature contract changes, exploring the processes, legal considerations, and practical implications involved.


Importance of Understanding Post-Signature Contract Modifications and Terminations

The business landscape is dynamic, and parties to commercial contracts may encounter situations necessitating modifications or terminations. Understanding the legal framework surrounding these changes is crucial for maintaining the integrity of business relationships and mitigating potential risks.


Modifying a Commercial Contract


The Process of Amending the Contract

Modifying a contract involves changing its terms after the initial agreement. This process requires a systematic approach to ensure that modifications are valid, enforceable, and aligned with the parties’ intentions. 


Requirements for Valid Modifications

Legal maxims such as “consensus ad idem” (meeting of minds) underscore the principle that parties must agree on the changes for modifications to be valid. Moreover, modifications should be supported by consideration, reinforcing the notion that there must be a mutual exchange of value for the changes to be legally binding.


Terminating a Commercial Contract


Common Reasons for Termination

Contracts may be terminated for various reasons, ranging from breaches of contractual obligations to unforeseen external circumstances.

Here are the common reasons for terminations : 


Breach of Contract

What it means: If one party doesn’t hold up their end of the deal or breaks any of the agreed-upon rules in the contract, it’s called a breach.

Example: If a company promised to deliver goods by a certain date but doesn’t, that’s a breach.


Failure to Perform

What it means: Sometimes, one party just doesn’t do what they promised. If they’re not doing their part, it can be a reason to end the contract.

Example: If a service provider isn’t providing the services they were hired for, it’s a failure to perform and can be the cause for termination.


Change in Circumstances

What it means: Sometimes, things change unexpectedly, and it becomes impossible or impractical to continue with the contract.

Example: If new laws make it impossible for a business to continue a certain activity outlined in the contract, they might have to end it.


Mutual Agreement:

What it means: Both parties might just agree that it’s best to end the contract for various reasons, even if everything is going fine.

Example: If two businesses initially teamed up for a project, but halfway through, they both realize it’s not working out, they might mutually decide to end the contract.

Understanding the common grounds for termination is essential for parties contemplating such actions.


Legal Options and Remedies for Terminating Contracts


Contractual Termination Clauses

Commercial contracts often include termination clauses that outline the conditions under which parties can end the agreement. These clauses serve as legal mechanisms to govern the termination process and are critical for parties seeking to exercise their termination rights.


Types of Termination Clauses

Termination clauses can be categorized into convenience clauses, cause-based clauses, and automatic termination clauses. Each type serves a specific purpose, providing parties with flexibility or establishing clear criteria for termination.


Terminating Without a Reason (Convenience Clauses)

These are like “no-questions-asked” break-up clauses. 

Either side can end the deal without pointing fingers. It’s for situations like changing plans, different business directions, or just deciding it’s time to part ways.


Ending for a Good Reason (Cause-Based Clauses)

This is about having a list of valid reasons to break up. 

It could be if one party isn’t doing their part or breaks the rules. It sets clear conditions for when it’s okay to call it quits.


Automatic Break-Up (Automatic Termination Clauses)

This kind of clause happens when a specified event occurs, the contract is terminated automatically. 

This can be beneficial in situations where immediate termination is necessary, such as in cases of a party’s insolvency.


Impact of Termination Clauses on Contract Termination Rights

The presence and wording of termination clauses significantly impact parties’ rights to terminate. 

Understanding these clauses is crucial, as they define the scope of termination rights and the consequences of exercising them.


Common Law Rights to Terminate

In addition to contractual termination clauses, common law provides parties with certain rights to terminate contracts under specific circumstances. 

These rights may arise in cases of fundamental breaches or frustration of purpose.


Grounds for Common Law Termination

Grounds for common law termination include a party’s inability to perform its contractual obligations, a repudiatory breach by the other party, or a fundamental change in circumstances that renders performance impossible or radically different.


Procedures for Exercising Common Law Termination Rights

Exercising common law termination rights requires adherence to specific procedures, such as providing notice and allowing the defaulting party an opportunity to remedy the breach. 

Failure to follow these procedures may impact the validity of the termination.


Consequences of Contract Modification or Termination


Legal and Business Implications of Modifications and Terminations

Post-signature modifications or terminations carry legal and business implications that parties must carefully consider. 

Legal maxims like “pacta sunt servanda” (agreements must be kept) highlight the importance of respecting the sanctity of contracts, even when modifications or terminations are pursued.

Potential Impact on Ongoing Contractual Obligations

Modifications or terminations may affect ongoing contractual obligations, creating potential liabilities or triggering additional responsibilities. 

Parties must be cognizant of these consequences to make informed decisions about the changes they seek.


Case Studies and Practical Examples


Examples of Contract Modification and Termination

Examining real-world scenarios provides practical insights into the complexities of contract modification and termination. 

Case studies can help parties understand the challenges, consequences, and strategic considerations involved in navigating post-signature changes.


Real-World Implications of Post-Signature Contract Changes

The real-world implications of contract modifications and terminations extend beyond legal considerations. 

Businesses must evaluate the impact on relationships, reputations, and overall operational efficiency when contemplating changes to existing contracts.


Best Practices for Managing Contract Modifications and Terminations

To navigate post-signature changes effectively, parties should adopt best practices in contract management. 

This includes maintaining clear communication, documenting changes in writing, and regularly reviewing and updating contracts as circumstances evolve.


Importance of Legal Counsel in Contract Modification and Termination Matters

Legal counsel plays a pivotal role in guiding parties through the complexities of contract modification and termination. 

Professionals can provide clarity on legal implications, assist in drafting modifications, and ensure compliance with applicable laws.

The importance of proper contract management cannot be overstated. Regular reviews, clear communication, and strategic modifications or terminations, guided by legal advice, contribute to the longevity and success of business relationships. 

Emphasizing these principles ensures that parties can adapt to changing circumstances while upholding the integrity of their contractual commitments


Jurisprudence in Singapore Jurisdiction

Under Singapore law, commercial contracts can be modified or terminated after they are signed, subject to certain requirements. 

Contractual parties may agree to modify their original agreement by giving notice of termination or upon the lapse of a specified period of time.

Alternatively, contracting parties may release themselves from the obligations of the original contract by entering into a mutual release of their outstanding obligations. 

However, where each contractual party is still subject to contractual obligations that have yet to be fulfilled, the mutual release of their outstanding obligations is generally effective under Singapore law. The law in Singapore relating to such clauses is essentially based on English law.


The English Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, which either invalidates an exception clause or limits the efficacy of such terms by imposing a has been re-enacted in Singapore as the Unfair Contract Terms Act. 

It is important to note that the incorporation of a no oral modification clause (NOM) in a contract may nullify subsequent oral modifications to the contract once it has been entered into. 

However, the Singapore Court of Appeal has held that NOM clauses merely raise a rebuttable presumption that in the absence of an express agreement to the contrary, there would be no variation. 

Therefore, parties may still modify or terminate a contract orally if they can rebut the presumption raised by the NOM clause.

Please note that this article does not constitute express or implied legal advice, whether in whole or in part. For more information, email us at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


× How Can We Help You?